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Newman wins M'Ville as Hendrick duo wreck

by Pete McCole
Sunday, April 01, 2012

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Ryan Newman
Getty Images for NASCAR

Ryan Newman scored a surprise victory in a wild finish in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway after an ill-fated three-wide pass for the lead took each of the race leaders out of the running with two laps to go.

Rallying from an early pit road penalty that put him a lap down, Newman slipped by the carnage and inherited the lead for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish and held off A.J. Allmendinger over the final three laps to grab his first career Martinsville victory.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. held on to finish third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex, Jr.

It all came down to being at the right place at the right time, as teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson tangled with Clint Bowyer on the opening three-lap dash to open the door for Newman to secure his 16th-career Sprint Cup victory and snap a 22-race winless drought.

“We were not a dominant race car today but we put ourselves in contention,” said Newman. “For me to take us out of the game and we ended up going a lap down because of my speeding penalty, and the guys did an awesome job in giving us the car to make the changes.

“We have been in that position here and been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it's nice to be able to at least balance it out and get in victory lane. The way the strategy and everything worked out, coming in for two tires and Clint (Bowyer) kind of clearing out turn one for us, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”

Much of Sunday’s race was a rather mundane, not-so-typical Martinsville race with only seven caution flags. But it was the last two caution flags that set the stage for what would be a memorable finish.

Gordon and Johnson had a stranglehold on the top position all day long, with Gordon – a seven-time Martinsville winner - leading a race-high 328 laps but spending the last nearly all of the last 100 laps chasing Johnson, who passed Denny Hamlin on lap 393 to grab the top spot.

With Earnhardt, Jr. running third, it looked as though the Hendrick Motorsports team was well on their way to earning team owner Rick Hendrick his 200th NASCAR victory when David Reutimann brought out the sixth caution flag of the day with two laps to go.

Coming to the yellow flag, Gordon just edged Johnson on the inside to be scored as the leader during the caution period, starting on the inside of Johnson for the three-lap shootout to the finish. Clint Bowyer restarted third behind Gordon, followed by Brad Keselowski, Newman, Earnhardt, Jr., Truex, Jr., Kenseth and Allmendinger.

At the leaders came through turn one on the first green-flag lap, Bowyer dived to the inside to make it three wide, too wide as it turned out. The three leaders bounced off each other, with Johnson spinning into the outside wall and Gordon spinning to the inside and into Bowyer.

Newman, hugging the inside line, slipped past Bowyer along with Allmendinger, while Earnhardt, Jr. slipped inside of Keselowski, bounced off Gordon and continued on in third place.

Gordon, Johnson and Bowyer were able to continue on - Bowyer finishing tenth and Johnson 12th with Gordon getting the worst of the deal, finishing 14th.

“I didn’t get the best restart,” said Gordon. “The tires are really old.  I spun the tires a slight bit.  When I saw (Bowyer) go down to the inside of me I knew we were all in trouble.  All I could do was just hold on tight.  (Johnson) couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t go anywhere.  He was just coming with so much speed.  It won the race for Newman. Yeah, that’s Martinsville right?”

“We both come out losers in that deal,” said Bowyer. “It was just a bad situation for everybody. I had a good day. Three of those Hendrick cars were the class of the field all day long. It’s the nature of the beast. I hate it for those guys. I hate it for our guys. We ended up 10th and should have been easily a fourth-place finish there.”

Newman restarted in the top spot for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish with Allmendinger to his outside. The two ran door to door for the first two laps before Newman finally cleared him on the back straight on the final lap, winning by just over a car length.

After spending much of the weekend under the weather, Allmendinger was rewarded with a career-best finish, and despite coming within a few feet of winning his first Sprint Cup race, never put the bumper to Newman during the final laps.

“First time I've ever had a chance to win a Sprint Cup race, so I was going to do everything I could,” said Allmendinger. “Why didn't I wreck him?  He actually got a good drive off (turn) two.  I would have had to wreck both of us to get into him in the three to get him.

I don't want to win like that.  That's not the way I want to win a race.  He did everything clean on the restart.  He could have drove me off the racetrack, and if he would have done that then it's kind of like, okay, it's game on. And if he would have just drove into the corner, left side of me and got me out of the way, then I would have probably run into him.  He didn't do that and he didn't deserve to get wrecked.”

Hamlin was sixth followed by Tony Stewart, with Aric Almirola and Brad Keselowski finishing ahead of Bowyer to round out the top ten.

Greg Biffle finished 13th and held onto the points lead by six points over Earnhardt, Jr. with Stewart, Kenseth and Harvick making up the rest of the top five.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 5 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Outback Steak House 47/1 505 Running
2 14 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 43/1 505 Running
3 27 22 AJ Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 41/0 505 Running
4 7 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 41/1 505 Running
5 13 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 39/0 505 Running
6 9 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 40/2 505 Running
7 3 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 38/1 505 Running
8 21 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation / Gary Sinise Foundation 37/1 505 Running
9 19 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield "Helping Hungry Homes" 36/1 505 Running
10 15 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 34/0 505 Running
11 4 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 34/1 505 Running
12 22 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet MyLowe's 33/1 505 Running
13 28 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 31/0 505 Running
14 26 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 30/0 505 Running
15 20 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Belkin 29/0 505 Running
16 12 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 28/0 505 Running
17 6 55 Brian Vickers Toyota RK Motors 27/0 505 Running
18 17 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe" 26/0 505 Running
19 16 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush's Baked Beans 25/0 505 Running
20 2 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser is Back 25/1 505 Running
21 18 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet BB&T 23/0 505 Running
22 32 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 22/0 505 Running
23 10 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 21/0 505 Running
24 25 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 20/0 505 Running
25 24 34 David Ragan Ford Front Row Motorsports 19/0 505 Running
26 11 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Libman / Menards 18/0 505 Running
27 34 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 17/0 505 Running
28 38 38 David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's 16/0 505 Running
29 31 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 15/0 505 Running
30 39 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 14/0 505 Running
31 41 33 Hermie Sadler Chevrolet Anderson's Maple Syrup 13/0 505 Running
32 36 32 Ken Schrader Ford Federated Auto Parts 12/0 503 Running
33 40 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services 11/0 497 Running
34 42 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Ollie's Bargain Outlet 10/0 439 Running
35 29 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet Accell Construction 9/0 436 Running
36 8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 8/0 435 Running
37 43 249 J.J. Yeley Toyota JPO Absorbents 7/0 359 Running
38 1 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet HendrickCars.com 6/0 256 Out of Race
39 37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 74 Running
40 23 98 Michael McDowell Ford Curb Records 4/0 60 Running
41 30 26 Josh Wise * Ford Morristown Driver's Service 3/0 49 Running
42 33 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 2/0 30 Running
43 35 74 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Turn One Racing 0 25 Running

* Denotes Rookie

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